Toronto-based marketing software startup CrowdRiff has launched Localhood, a free online platform intended to allow users to discover and support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic by sharing “visual web stories.”
Localhood is partnering with the Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE initiative.
The app operates by allowing individuals to scroll visual stories featuring different small businesses in Toronto. Localhood stories can be discovered by anyone through Google search. Once an individual discovers a business they like, they will be directed to an online purchase page for that business.
“I live in the King West community, and when COVID-19 struck, I was overwhelmed with the dramatic and immediate impact the pandemic was having on local businesses,” said Dan Holowack, co-founder and CEO of both CrowdRiff and Localhood. “As an entrepreneur and business owner myself, I knew that we had to help.”
According to a March report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 40 percent of small businesses were concerned that COVID-19 could force them into long-term closure. Holowack said this impact prompted the company to create the Localhood initiative.
Localhood is partnering with the Digital Main Street’s national ShopHERE initiative, which is focused on building online storefronts for local independent businesses and artists. Once businesses establish a digital presence, Localhood will prompt its local creators to share visual stories for others to discover and support these businesses.
Localhood already has over 100 Toronto small businesses leveraging the platform to keep customers updated on service offerings shifting as the initiative looks to gain exposure to new businesses and customers.
Over 150 cities across North America have signed up, hoping to have Localhood become available in their cities. Localhood is currently available in Toronto and is launching in two other cities in the United States next month.
“We saw how people were sharing stories about which businesses were open and who they were buying from,” Holowack added. “We wanted to give a home to these stories so they were easy to discover and share, and that is how Localhood was born.”
Image source Unsplash. Photo by Tim Mossholder.